Broadening my horizon

The first half of this week at GA was mainly about exposing us to as many new things as possible. We plugged Angular.js into Rails, learnt about the famous node.js that everybody talks about (upon our special request – thanks to the instructional team for making the extra effort and preparing lessons outside the original curriculum!). We learnt about how to run slow tasks in the background in our Rails apps so as not to disturb the user experience, we used websockets for the first time and we got introduced to Jekyll, a framework for websites with mainly static content. Alex says using Jekyll for our personal website makes us look like a real developer. Noted!

I’ve also started going to a few different networking events. I am a regular attendee of Codebar, an event for minorities in tech and this week I also went to a meetup called ‘Ladies who Code’, which was really interesting.

During the event some people had a lively discussion about which programming language was best for beginners and I can tell you that there are some strongly opinionated people in this industry. Some said they would recommend starting with an easier language like PHP (I have no idea if PHP really is easy to learn) and others said you should start with C to really get to know the inner workings of a computer. During this discussion my friend Nina said: “Wow, this is like listening to people talking about religion!” She was spot on.

Yesterday at Codebar I had another lively discussion about how important test driven development (TDD) is. The more I talk to other developers outside our cosy GA environment, the more this topic seems to come up.

As exciting as it is to go out and meet all these interesting people and learn about new languages and ways of coding – it’s also quite unsettling. The more I learn, the more I understand how little I know and the more my personal to-do list increases in length. Also, as I said – there are lots of opinions out there and it seems like there often isn’t necessarily a right or wrong and I don’t have enough knowledge at the moment to form my own opinion.

So here I am asking myself – do I need to bin the work I’ve done for my personal website and start all over again with Jekyll to look like a hacker? Do I need to learn Java as it seems to be the most used language? Or C to understand the machine better? Create my project 3 on node.js? Do I need to change all my projects on Github to include tests?

The more I speak to other developers, the more I get the impression that TDD is actually not like a religion but something that every company uses these days. And the more I worry that I don’t know enough about it.

So I’ve decide to prioritize the tests over the million other things on my to-do list. At GA we learnt some basics of how to use rspec with Ruby code a few weeks ago and yesterday we had a confusing lesson about plugging rspec into Rails. But I haven’t really internalised the TDD mindset yet. It feels unnatural to me and I want to change that.

On the subject of getting even more exposure:

Yesterday GA took us on a little field trip to Gamesys, a company in the online gambling industry. While this is probably not a field that would be my first choice to work in (after years of working in an investment bank, I endeavour to work in an industry that will actually make me feel good about it), it was still very interesting to speak to them.

We were shown around the offices in Piccadilly and were able to ask them questions about their way of working and their recruitment process. They gave us some tips about applying for jobs and about how to raise your profile as a developer (apparently it’s good to have a blog (check!), a Twitter account (check!) and go to a lot of networking events (check!)… ).

This week I also worked a bit more on my first little Meteor.js app (well, the first that is not the tutorial on their website). I’m very excited about publishing it online at the weekend and get our course to use it during my lesson on Meteor next week.

And now it’s time to start the planning for project 3, our last hurrah!

Advertisements